Sometimes there is a particular event that leaves such a lasting impression in a voter's mind that it greatly affects his choice come the next election. This is mine: About two years ago I attended an Oak Park village board meeting. Trustees were discussing a proposed ordinance that would restrict parkway trees to a 50-foot spacing. If approved, many houses on small lots would not have a parkway tree in front of their property.
(This is a village that has earned a Tree City U.S.A. designation for 25 consecutive years and Growth Awards for 10 years from the National Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of the village's maintenance and care of thousands of parkway trees.)
The subject attracted a full house of residents and many spoke in opposition to the ordinance. They included the chair of the Village Forestry Commission, John Seaton, the respected former director of the Oak Park Conservatory, as well as local professional landscapers and homeowners.
The lone voice favoring the ordinance was a paid, out-of-town consultant who refuted the village's own commission and local experts. At the end of the public testimony President Pope spoke eloquently about the village's need for economic restraint as the rationale to pass this ordinance. The consultant won. The board, in lockstep with President Pope, unanimously adopted the ordinance.
This was so outrageous — the board hiring a consultant to refute their own commission — I was embarrassed and left the meeting.
I look forward to voting for Anan Abu-Taleb on April 9.
Victor J. Guarino
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